Do you know people who say something like, “Yeah, I believe in God, but I just don’t do church”?
This is a variation on the popular claim, “I’m spiritual, but not religious.”
When I hear this, my first thought is, Well, at least they believe in God. That’s a whole lot better than embracing atheism, which has become very trendy nowadays.
But in the long run, believing in God but not doing church is very problematic. You see, being confident God exists is a great first step, but church is where we learn who God is, what He has done for us, and what He wants from us.
If we don’t learn these important theological facts, then the “God” we claim to believe in will remain just a vague and undefined cosmic power, no more personal and specific than “The Force” in the Star Wars movies.
Regarding the need for regular church attendance, don’t take my word for it; take God’s word for it. In the Holy Scriptures, the Word of God, we read, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another” (Hebrews 10:25).
Apparently, even 2,000 years ago, when the New Testament letter to the Hebrews was written, they struggled with the problem of people claiming to believe in God but who couldn’t be bothered to assemble with fellow believers each week. I’m not sure if the primary excuses back then were an early tee time at the golf course or the need to watch the previous night’s highlights on JSPN (the Jerusalem Sports Programming Network). If not, I’m sure other reasons were offered why people preferred not to do church.
Here’s another good reason why we ought to do church: When Jesus’ disciples asked Him to teach them how to pray, Jesus very clearly told them to say, “Our Father, who art in Heaven…”
Notice, Jesus did not tell them to say, “My Father,” which seems like a perfectly fine way for a person to engage in prayer. He instead told them to say, “Our Father.” This is because faith in God is a team sport. We simply cannot do it well if we take the individualistic Lone Ranger approach. It is imperative that a significant part of our faith life is worshipping together as a community.
Here’s an analogy: People who believe in God are like burning logs in a camp fire. If you stack up the logs so they are leaning against each other, you’ll get a roaring fire. But if you separate the burning logs and lay them down on the dirt away from each other, very quickly the fire goes out and they grow cold.
If you haven’t noticed, life can be hard. It’s often filled with pain and suffering, heartache and sadness. It is very unhealthy, physically and emotionally, to attempt to go through life all by yourself, without any support from family and friends.
The same is true for our faith life. When a person claims to believe in God, but adds that he doesn’t do church, he is basically saying he is an anti-social hermit who shuns all contact with other human beings—at least regarding his spiritual life. And by the way, our spiritual life is the most important aspect of human existence. After all, our physical bodies will rot in a grave someday. Our spiritual life, that is, our soul, is eternal.
So, being an individualistic Lone Ranger regarding faith is not cool and trendy. It is instead emotionally warped, and just as dysfunctional as a recluse who hides in his cluttered apartment and avoids all contact with other people.
It’s great when folks acknowledge that God is real. But they must not do it alone. They need a faith community. They very much need to do church.